DVD Features include:
A true sense of gripping exploration returns to the opening episode of a Doctor Who adventure for the first time in a long time, as the crewmembers don special protective suits to check out the moon surface. Contrary to what Colin Baker's introduction on "The Cybermen Years" BBC video may tell you, Jamie's concussion is a result of him relying too much on the Moon's lighter gravity and not respecting its hidden canyons. It is also very likely the result of having his character tacked onto a script that was first drafted without him, but that's another story. At any rate, Jamie's self-inflicted condition is a big turn-off for the Cybermen and their recruitment efforts, which is why they always approach him just enough to check him out or knock him out, but don't bother with him any further after that. Good motivation. (If he had contracted the Cybermen's "disease", he would have been a prime candidate for cybernization).
Polly appears to be nothing but a screaming coffee machine again in the existing video episodes. However, it is a gross injustice to judge her character without an examination of episode three's antics, in which she becomes the chemical mastermind behind the defeat of the only true Cybermen to invade the base. Cocktail Polly, anyone? Episode one also proves that Ben is just as productive a coffee machine as Polly ever was.
Jamie recovers in time to participate in most of the drama of episodes three and four. Just as the Doctor and Sir Ian jostled for the position of leading hero in the first two seasons, now the role of prime sidekick doesn't seem to be big enough to give Jamie and Ben each enough to do. Luckily, this type of story can thrive well on having too many characters in one small space, which is especially good as Polly has them both beat as best sidekick.
Without episode three, the Cybermen are almost never seen and heard at the same time, nor can we watch any of the other main characters confronting them. Something definitely seems to be missing from an otherwise very good script. The new look of the Cybermen is okay, but without the characteristic ring-pattern on the sides of their faces, I prefer the soft-cloth creepiness of the design seen in "The Tenth Planet". The new sound of their voices is not as horrific or easy to understand, but it does give the Cybermen an added sense of power and adds to their menace.
The final episode does not seem to get pulled off with the same atmospheric expertise as the second episode. It has much to recommend it, including a VERY well done visual laser effect, a stock musical cyber-theme that will return more prominently in "The Tomb of the Cybermen" (story no. 37), and enough plot-tidbits to give everyone something heroic to do AND create a strong sense of teamwork at the same time. A little more attention to detail, although difficult under the constraints of this program's time and budget, could definitely have taken this story's believability, excitement, and drama up another few notches.
2014 DVD with animationFor 2014, we are lucky enough to get a new version of the story fleshed back out to its original length with animated versions of episodes 1 & 3 - definitely a good idea that finally allows us to WATCH the whole thing from beginning to end. However, I admit to having mixed feelings about the end result.
On one hand, I'm amazed to see so many detailed and expensive in-between frames for much of the animation, indicating a lot of extra work. Much has been done to make the characters more detailed and expressive, and very closely match the look of their live-action counterparts. There's a lot of improvement here over the simpler techniques that made their debut in 2006's animation for "The Invasion" (story no. 46). But I wasn't very impressed with the overall directing of these new visuals, which seemed to be distracting our attention off topic instead of keeping it on-story.
Mind you, "The Moonbase" is somewhat more challenging than other stories in that it has a lot of sequences with either no dialogue or unimportant background technobabble. The live action episodes often show purely visual communication, as with astronauts giving each other hand-signals while suiting each other up in an airlock, or counterpoint action, such as the Doctor collecting samples off of working crewmembers, and scenes like these could easily lose all meaning if one listened to the audio alone. For the animated episodes, I get the feeling that extra meaning in the visuals just isn't coming through in similar scenes. Other simpler dialogue scenes simply seem to make bizarre choices in determining whose face to show, and what expression that character will have. Ben is seen to pull a number of bizarre grimaces in this one, almost as if he's decided to become a Cyberman's henchman. Don't know what that was about.
It also feels at times that the team limited themselves to recreating the shots that they think would have been achievable in the primitive studios of the 1960's, instead of the shots that might best tell the story, particularly for shots on the moon surface in low gravity, and for some of the action of characters moving in and out of various rooms. Too often, animated and live action episodes feel like they are repeating each other's visuals to pad out the story - I had feared "The Invasion" would do something similar when the 6 episodes were extended to 8, but it had proved to me that the new visuals were different enough to make the whole thing move even better.
Overall, I think about 1/3 of the more freestyle sequences had creative and exciting visuals, while the other 2/3 were a bit too lost for my tastes. Mind you, the source material is a major factor here, as the appeal of "The Moonbase" isn't in the characters or their dialogue on the audio track, and the basic story doesn't have the same energy as "The Invasion" or many other later Troughton tales. Still, this remains the best way yet to enjoy "The Moonbase" at full length.
Extras include a very good making-of featurette that highlights this story's place in developing Troughton's Doctor, his sidekick Jamie, and his nemesis villains the Cybermen. As usual, there are commentaries, but I found Innes Lloyd's brief archive audio interview to be much harder to listen to because the audio quality was much inferior to what we are accustomed to. Sadly missing for reasons I don't understand are the interviews of director Morris Barry that were made for "The Cybermen Years" VHS release. Those definitely deserved a spot here.
Magyar: "A holdbázis"
Français: (La Station Lunaire)
Русский: "Лунная база"
English Novelization: "Doctor Who and the Cybermen"
"The Moonbase" is not known to exist in its original format (4 black-and-white 25-minute TV episodes) in its entirety.
The existing episodes from this story (#2 & 4)
are now on DVD again for 2014,
Audio Commentaries, a making-of featurette, and other extras are also included.
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